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Modern elements mingle with classic fairy tale
The Gainesville Ballet presents "Snow White Ballet" this weekend at Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium. Rommie Stalnaker is Snow White and the seven dwarves are, clockwise from top left, Leia Rivera, Lianna Killip, Laura Ann Shipley, Reagan Leimbach, Ada Spahija, Brinkley Frankum and Olivia Jones.

Sixty dancers donning beards, wings, crowns or tutus will take the stage at Pearce Auditorium this weekend to bring to life Gainesville Ballet Company’s Snow White Ballet."

Select Brenau University dance majors and a handful of professional dancers will augment the Gainesville Ballet Company.

"Snow White Ballet" features Rommie Stalnaker, a senior dance major at Brenau, as Snow White. Professional dancer Peter Swan is cast as the prince and Brenau assistant dance professor Nikki Bybee will dance the part of the evil queen.

Diane Callahan, director and founder of Gainesville Ballet Company, said schoolchildren from nearly a dozen Northeast Georgia counties will attend four special matinee performances held today and Friday.

"Snow White Ballet" is Gainesville Ballet’s annual spring performance. The company has also performed "Sleeping Beauty," "Swan Lake" and "Alice in Wonderland" for spring productions.

"Fairy tales really lend themselves to a ballet adaptation because of the prince and the magical characters," Callahan said.

Seven members of Gainesville Ballet’s junior company, which features dancers between the ages of 10 and 12, will play the parts of Dopey, Sneezy, Sleepy, Doc, Grumpy, Bashful and Happy.

"They’re really young, but they’ve really built their characters," said junior company director Christina Castro-Tauser. "There’s a lot of talent within the company and a lot of talent coming up, especially with the dwarves."

The dwarves said children will enjoy the cast’s interaction with the audience and the magical elements of the ballet, such as the scene where Snow White mingles with bluebirds and forest creatures against a wooded backdrop.

"There’s humor and Snow White goes down into the audience," said Reagen Leimbach, who dances the part of Sleepy. "And at the end the whole cast goes down and greets the audience. There’s a lot of fun music, too."

Lianne Killip plays the role of Grumpy, and said the fantasy incorporated into the production will entertain the elementary and middle school students attending the matinee performances this week.

"The evil queen says, ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?’ And then Snow White appears in the mirror, and then the queen tries to think of a way to poison Snow White."

Although the main storyline is based on Grimm’s classic fairy tale, Callahan said, the performance will actually begin with five short abstract ballets.

The show opens with a modern ballet scene, enhanced by lighting and costumes. Jazz elements emerge throughout the small pieces, and a lyrical number rounds out the eclectic first half of the performance. "Snow White Ballet" follows the abstract ballets after a 15 minute intermission.

"I think Gainesville audiences need to see more than fairy tales all the time," Callahan said. "If we don’t go beyond that, then the audience will never know there’s anything other than these prince and princess things. I think dancers need to do something beyond just fairy tales ... they need pieces that make them grow as dancers and that stretch their technique and artistry."